Dr. Saka Audu,the Kogi State Commissioner for Health, has on a statement said that the strange disease that has killed 62 persons in the state has been identified to be gastroenteritis.
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Followimg this discovery,the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control says tests are still ongoing in their collaborating laboratories to ascertain the cause of the strange illness in Kogi State.
The commissioner told newsmen on Sunday in Lokoja that those so far diagnosed were found to be suffering from gastroenteritis and malaria.
He therefore called for calm, saying the government was on top of the situation.
Gastroenteritis, according to experts, is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines that typically makes its presence known in the form of vomiting and/or diarrhoea. In severe cases, bleeding may occur in stools.
The state Ministry of Health in a statement on Sunday noted that the disease killed many people in Okunran, Okoloke and Isanlu-Esa communities in Yagba West Local Government Area of the state.
Audu stated, “The current information available to us is that the disease actually started six weeks ago in Okoloke village in Yagba West, which is a settlement that is predominantly inhabited by Fulani herdsmen.
“There have been cases of reported deaths following abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea, but the patients who showed signs of illness had since been evacuated and transported to the Kogi State Specialist Hospital, Lokoja, for better treatment.
“So far, we have evacuated 39 patients from Okoloke area and only six of them were admitted and have shown significant sign of improvement while others have since been discharged.
“Out of the six that were admitted, three of them were diagnosed of gastroenteritis and the remaining three were just cases of malaria, and they have shown remarkable signs of improvement.”
The commissioner stressed that the disease was not Lassa fever as laboratory results of samples taken from the victims to Irrua General Hospital, Edo State proved negative to the disease.
Audu, however, said that the casualty figure given by local leaders in the affected areas had yet to be verified by government.
“We will investigate and trace the dead people to the grave yard and come up with the correct figure. We want to assure the general public that government is doing all that is humanly possible to stay on top of the situation and forestall further loss of lives.
“We will continue to inform the public as the investigation progresses,’’ he added.
However, the NCDC in a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja said its Event Based Surveillance system on August 1 detected the news of a strange illness in Kogi State.
“In addition to this, we had received a report of a strange illness in Kwara State a week before. Our Surveillance Team immediately contacted the State Epidemiology Teams of both states.
“”Preliminary findings from the states showed that some cases presented with symptoms fit the case definition of Lassa fever.
“However, laboratory test came out negative for Lassa fever and tests are now being carried out for other viral diseases in one of our collaborating laboratories,’’ the statement quoted.
According to the centre, the Kogi State Epidemiology Team, led by the state Commissioner of Health, “visited the towns said to be affected by the strange illness and found five cases with mild illness.
“The patients were treated and discharged immediately. No other cases or deaths of unknown illness have been identified.
“However, samples for routine laboratory investigation have been taken from the sick and results are being awaited.
“The NCDC is supporting Kogi and Kwara states in ongoing investigations and our Rapid Response Teams are ready to be deployed as required.”
“We ask members of the public to continue to ensure proper hygiene and sanitation measures in place at all times and avoid self-medication.
“They are also encouraged to report to a health facility immediately if they experience symptoms such as sudden high fever, especially if it does not respond to conventional remedies.
“Health workers should ensure universal care precautions while handling patients at all times.”
“If common causes of febrile illnesses are ruled out, health workers should inform the Local Government or State Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer and ensure immediate laboratory investigation.
“We will continue to work with the states to monitor the current situation and will share new information received, proactively,’’ the statement added.